DIY, travel

Upcycled skirt at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Last month, we headed to the Mojave desert for a long weekend of camping and wildflower seeking. We drove out to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve on the first day and it was a dream. I wanted to make a new dress to wear but didn’t have time. So, I pulled a dress out of my ‘to mend’ pile, cut the straps in half and managed to tie it into a skirt. I purchased the dress on Etsy several years ago but never wore it because it was quite unflattering. It was made of beautiful material though. On the car ride up to the desert, I pulled the details off the original straps and sewed them up the skirt with some pearl beads. It turned out beautiful for a last minute upcycle, though I’ll actually add a real zipper to it eventually. The wildflowers are just about gone for the year but I recommend a trip up next early Spring. It was so stunning in person.

Upcycled dress at poppy fields from Typhoon Tessie IMG_9881 IMG_0047 IMG_0680 Here’s the original dress. I bought it on Etsy four years ago but never wore it because the shape of the dress was terrible for the shape of my body. IMG_0542 IMG_9902 IMG_9923 IMG_9981 IMG_9929 IMG_9944 IMG_9969 IMG_0067 IMG_0080 IMG_0707 IMG_9819

celebrations, travel

Our 2nd Anniversary Video!

We just got back from four days in Desert Hot Springs. It was ridiculously relaxing. I’ll post some photos soon, but here’s a video I made. I’m in love with it 🙂
 It was inspired by this one. I made it with Splice, entirely on my iPhone. The titles were made using the Rhonna Designs app.
family, summer, travel, wedding

Sweet, sweet summer: three

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby



wedding dancing


beautiful ladies

wedding decor

loving those who’ve gone



ring pillow by my mom and Nana

hair, done by me

embroidered sign by my mom, sewn together by me

reading material or, why I should not get magazine subscriptions

last stop before Sequoia

tadpole fisherman



accomplished- shoe tying

acomplished- tent building


pool tricks

‘this big’





I did it!

safety man, keeping the bears away

world’s biggest

fresh air



keep me safe

and stay right here


mother nature

no cheating

… life was beginning over again with summer…


till next summer

las vegas, outfit, travel

outfit post: desert beauty

 David and I headed to Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas on our first night of our Vegas trip. We wish that we had more time to enjoy it, but as far as visiting it in mid July, we were probably there at the perfect time. We got there an hour before sunset and the sun was dipping so quickly behind the mountains that the shadows changed every few seconds in the photos behind us. The light over the desert in magical. We stayed at the Palms one night and we were fairly high up. The mountains seems to surround all of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. Every few hours, the mountains would appear to be a different color, from reds and oranges to blues, depending on where the sun was in the sky. I think I could live there. I love the dry heat and the mountains were inspiring yet relaxing.

So I wore my favorite new skirt. I had imagined it against the empty desert expanse and it was just as I visualized. The skirt was on clearance at Nordstrom’s Rack ($10!). It was so long that I cut about a foot off of it. It ended up a bit shorter than I wanted, but it’s fine. And the top is my favorite new tube top from Pink Zone in PB ($6!). It’s so comfy yet pretty that I also got it in black. We were shopping at Whole Foods for picnic food before heading to Red Rock and I woman quickly pushed her cart past me and whispered, “you look so chic and stunning,” from behind me. I’ve been called stunning twice in my life by strangers- both women, which probably makes it not creepy, (and it doesn’t count when David says it). It’s not a word you hear too often so it sticks with you and makes you feel, I don’t know, something nice.

Top- Pink Zone, Skirt- Nordstrom’s Rack, Sandals- custom made in Vietnam, bracelets- Forever 21, Earrings- Betsey Johnson

Costa Rica, family, life, travel

Gracias a Dios

Today is the five year anniversary of my near drowning in Costa Rica. Most people probably know what I’m talking about, but the original is posted in my account (blast from the past), I want to make sure that I keep what I wrote. I had titled the post “Gracias a Dios.” I posted two more times after that with brief updates. For the past 5 years, I have tried to neatly write up that day and what it has meant to me. But I have yet to wrap my mind around how to write about the day one little girl lost her entire family in one neatly written package.
I honestly coped incredibly well, that day and since then. I was incredibly calm during it (though I was hysterical once we arrived back at the hotel and I knew that I was truly safe) and despite some episodes of hating being in rain, I don’t have PTSD from the incident. I have thought about getting a tattoo of a bird across my ribs in remembrance of the day since only a few days after it happened. I originally had scrapes across my face and the back of my neck from pushing myself out from between a rock wall and a metal rope. I also was scrapped along my knees, elbows and ribs from being dragged up the rock wall when I was being saved.

I wanted a super full day to celebrate 5 years. I started with yoga, went to David’s new church for the first time, we went out for a nice, healthy lunch in Hillcrest and then I got… my first tattoo, in honor of the day. It was sadly not the experience I was hoping for, but such is life. More on that tomorrow. Then David introduced me to “Burning Love.” It is a most excellent spoof of “The Bachelor” by Yahoo. I super recommend it if you need a
little bit of ridiculousness in your life.

Anyway, here is what I wrote, 5 years ago:


July 9, 2007
Current mood:grateful

i just wanted to let everyone know that i am okay. i don’t know if the word has gotten around already.
yesterday i went rappelling through waterfalls with a tour group in costa rica. there were 8 people and two guides. it was a friend that i met here a family of four boys from about 8-13 years old and a five year old girl. It started pouring a we were stuck in a pool of water at the base of one waterfall and just before another one. I think we were stuck for hours. It was too deep to stand the water wouldn’t stop. All we had was one rope to hold on to. Everyone in the family died except for the little girl. Her father held her for a long time and then he couldn’t fight anymore so i took her. One guide let go of the rope and went down the waterfall to call for help. they said he was really banged up but he made it alive and got a rescue group for us. the other guide tried to hold up two of the boys, but the water got too high and they died. the water kept coming and i was up to my neck so the guide took “reina” (the little girl, i don’t know her name, but her family kept calling her reina as a nickname, which means queen). the guide and i would talk sometimes in spanish to give each other hope and reina was so strong. she fought for so long and never let go of me. we heard people yelling. it took them a long time to set up a safety system to pull us out. then they pulled us onto this embankment, but it still took a while to find a way to get out of there. Reina fell asleep in my lap after i told her she would get off the pretty mountain and go home soon. I was so freezing and couldn’t stop shaking and our saviors took off their shirts to cover me and one man gave me shoes because mine were torn off by the current. Eventually the rain stopped so they made us go back down the waterfall but we each had two guides helping us a rope that went all the way down. They were going to make us climb over the bodies, but when my friend and i started to cry, they moved them before they made us go down. once out of the waterfall, we had to ride horses for 20 minutes to the lodge. the people at the hotel/lodge were so amazing and everyone was hugging us and checking on us every few minutes. they brought us dry clothes and towels and hot tea and cookies. everyone kept holding us and after they got back, the guides talked to us and told us that they had saved the bodies of the family and that they all looked peaceful together. the guide who i was with in the water said thank you, for what i’m not sure, maybe for staying calm.
we are fine now, just bad bruises and cuts covering our body. we’re going to a hospital soon to get checked out and to get sleeping pills so that we can rest. as scary as it was, i knew i would make it alive. i never thought that i was going to die. i know God was with me and i’ve never felt so calm.
i know i left a lot of details, i’ve just told this so many times. i know that it is in costa rican news, i think that it won’t make us news. soon some people are going to take us to the hospital and then to our host families’ homes and then we’re going to church. i think that i am going to stay in costa rica for the next five weeks as planned, but i’m pretty sure i have a pretty huge fear of water and possibly rain now. if anyone wants more details, you can talk to my family or david or lori. please pray for reina. she’s a strong little girl, i know that she’ll be okay and she has a lot of extended family who came last night to pick her up (she is costa rican).
i love you all.

July 10, 2007
hello everyone,
thanks so much for your wishes. i don{t have the energy to respond to everyone right now individually. we went to the hospital yesterday and they made me stay over night. i had water in my lungs and they are fearful that i will get an infection. the doctor said that my lungs sounded better today so he discharged me, but i just have to watch out for persistent coughs. our cuts are already healing and the worst ones are bandaged up. i wasn{t as sad today and they gave me pain killers and sleeping pills, which have been calming me down. my costa rican family came to the hospital last night, as did my friend¨s family, as well as the director of the school, a man from the hotel, and a woman from the adventure company so we had lots of people around to love us.
it is huge news in costa rica. apparently my host family found out because there was footage of me riding back on the horse to the lodge from the base of the waterfall. the funeral was today but i couldn{t go. the guide who i prayed and talked with during the accident called me in the hospital last night. he doesn{t think that reina knows yet. i don{t know if she went to the funeral. there have been long stories about how well liked the family is.
i am now thinking about coming home in 1.5 weeks, which would bring me home 3 weeks early (i am supposed to switch to a home and a school near the beach in 1.5 weeks, but i don{t know if i can handle being near the water any more).
the people here have been truly wonderful. the guides (who were with us and the ones who saved us) will always be my heroes. please pray for them as well.
thanks again for all the warm wishes. if anyone every visits costa rica, please send my love and thanks to tierras enomoradas, the hotel, or the san lorenzo adventure company. they are all incredible, incredible people.
i love you all.

July 21, 2012
i would like to let everyone know that i am now home from costa rica, after the most excruciatingly painful 24 hours of my life. instead of going home from the airport, i went straight to urgent care, to learn that i may have pneumonia, and MALARIA! turns out when the government says there is a very slim chance of getting a deadly disease, you should still take the vaccinations. it is not contagious (unless a mosquito bites me and then you). the doctor made it seem like as long as i do what he told me to do, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. however, the medicine will make me loopy and possibly hallucinate for 4 days, so if you call me and i don’t sound right, that is why.
i am SO grateful to be home now!

November 25, 2007
here’s an update 4 months later. i didn’t have malaria or pneumonia. the other woman who had been in the accident called me a week after I started to get sick (and had been well for 2 days) to tell me that she had just gotten out of the hospital for a 5 day stay with leptospirosis. so, i looked it up and realized that i had had all of the symptoms of it (fever, chills, vomiting, severe body pains… like to the point where you can’t sit up on your own, etc). The scary part was that it could go away for a while and you would feel better (like I was) and that it would come back deadly and cause meningitis, liver failure, renal failure, etc, etc. So anyway, I rushed to the doctor got tested and a week later got the results back that i did have leptospirosis. BUT I was lucky because if they catch it right away, than you are fine, if not, you can die (BTW, this is a very rare disease, at least in the U.S., like 150 people per year). So, even though they misdiagnosed me, the treatment for pneumonia and lepto are the same in the initial stages. So, long story short, I survived a second deadly episode, have been fine ever since and am oh so grateful!


For any of you House watchers- leptospirosis was a diagnoses or suspected diagnoses a couple of times- shows you how rare it is!

Here are two Costa Rican newspaper articles about the accident. The first is in English and the second is in Spanish.

!Gracias a Dios!
art, family, mosaic, photography, travel

David’s mosaics

My husband, David, does mosaic photography, which as far as we know, is something that he made up. He takes photos that I have taken (typically from our trips around the world) and cuts them into hundreds or thousands (depending on the size) of pieces and then glues it back together.

He would love to do a show of photos from our honeymoon (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore) but the pieces would have to be framed and that would cost $2000+. So, in comes Kickstarter. For anyone familiar with, it is a similiar concept. Instead of teachers asking for money for a classroom project, it is artists asking for money to fund a project that they would like to create. David is trying to raise money for the frames through Kickstarter. He has $150 day donated so far, but only 15 more days to raise the rest of the money. If he doesn’t reach his limit, then he does not get anything. He has spent years making these, if you can, please support him! At least check out his sitehe made an awesome video of putting together a small mosaic (an 8×10), piece by piece. The 8×10 was 637 pieces!

Unfortunately, they are not nearly as stunning online as they are in person, but nonetheless, here are a few shots. See more at

Love Ride- Malaysia

Serragon Road- Singapore

Ignite- Thailand

the poster from David’s second show
an old bio (super old- girlfriend old!)
Cafe La Vie- David’s art adorning the walls
our save the dates- a picture from our engagement trip was scanned in and turned into postcards

Sorry for the blur, but this is David’s biggest piece- 4ft x 2ft. It was a collaboration with a professional photographer, Christopher Foster. I wanted to include it, but this was the only photo that I could find- it is currently on display in my parents front room. My dad loved it so much that he pulled it down the art over the couch and quickly replaced it with this.

Thanks for checking out his Kickstarter project (and sharing it with all your friends and hopefully donating). You are all the best!

Betsey Johnson, outfit, travel

outfit post- betsey 2 and travel 1

Another outfit post, both with Betsey Johnson and beauties purchased on travels. In addition to doing a series on my fav Betsey jewelry, I want to feature all of the beautiful shoes, jewelry, and clothing that I have purchased abroad.
I know I’ve mentioned wanting to go to India. I just found a 36 day trip for under $3000 that goes all around India- I’m trying to talk David into it- Taj Mahal, camel trek through the desert, sipping chai tea with locals, home stays, temples, lion, tigers and elephants- oh my! Sounds amazing. Here’s hoping for next July!
Anyway, the earrings in this outfit are from Betsey a few years ago. I bought the skirt (also a tube dress) off the street in Bangkok. I hesitated with the purchase and walked past a few times and I am so grateful I ended up getting it (even if it was probably the 7th item with an elephant that I purchased in Thailand for myself or our home). The bracelets are from Costa Rica- I purchased the saints bracelet after my accident in an outdoor art market in San Jose. My host brother’s friend had one and I was so happy when I stumbled across one in the market. The circle bracelets were brought back from Costa Rica from my mom’s friend, Dagny. Dagny has since passed away, but she was a delightful woman with a great sense of adventure and fun stories from when she was young. She and my mom volunteered at San Diego’s first school house in Old Town together for a quite a few years. And the pretty beaded cross bracelet is from a friend, probably from a fair trade market because she always gave me pretties from fair trades bazaars. Oooo, and the shoes! I’m not a shoe girl, but I absolutely love these things. I very much dislike wearing heels and they are even comfortable enough for me to wear to work.

bracelets- from Costa Rica, earrings- Betsey Johnson, skirt- from Thailand, shoes, head piece (from a broken headband), shirt- Target, nail polish- Sally Hanson’s pacific blue (the most gorgeous shade of blue), glasses- Guess

Stockholm, Sweden, travel

Days 5 and 6: Stockholm

So, I still never finished Oslo and completely skipped over Denmark (so far, my favorite!} but Stockholm is fresh and I took notes as we toured today, so I’m skipping to day 4/5: Sweden! Yesterday we arrived in Stockholm after a seven hour bus ride. We have an entire tour bus to ourselves so it was pretty comfortable. We stopped in Grana, a tiny town with a locally famous peppermint factory. We saw a demonstration of making peppermint. It was pretty neat to see him turn sugar into the hard candy. One of the kids asked is tasted different when it was warm and soft then cold and hard. It was a great question because then the owner got us some candy and snipped off a piece for each person with a pair of scissors. The candy seemed ridiculously expensive (like everything else in Scandinavia) but I still got a bit for Jack (and me!). We were then supposed to walk around Granna but our driver said that most of the shops were closed for Easter week and that the only two open restaurants were expensive. It was darling though and I wish that we were able to walk around it and that I could have taken photos. So, instead our driver said, “It’s okay, there’s a McDonald’s forty minutes away.” So, off we headed to McDonald’s. Thankfully, I had my travel sunflower seed butter packets and crackers and a pumpkin seed bar. We went to a t.v. tour to have dinner last night. It´s the highest restaurant in Stockholm and thankfully it was pretty clear so we had a nice view of the city and a bit of the harbor (including the overnight ferry that we will take from Stockholm to Helsinki). Today was a pretty rad day. Stockholm seems very big and it wasn´t as nice as Oslo and Copenhagen. Don´t get me wrong- it is a nice city, but it didn´t have the same charm. Maybe I´m just smitten with Copenhagen and nothing else will compare 🙂 Anyway, we woke up to SNOW! Breakfast was fun because there were big windows and we could see the weather clearly. I have been in the snow, while it was actually snowing, once in my life. That time, it was just snowing, fairly hard but it was in Mammoth and things were already covered with snow. It was the first time that I experienced snow in a place that was not already snowed on. And, it was at just about 32, so in the morning, it would alternate between snow and rain and that was totally crazy to see. It snowed just about the entire day and I loved every minute of it. I would look down and see crisp white snow falling on my black glove and I would feel exhilarated! I’m sure that all of you who have lived in the snow are laughing at me right now, but I was like a kid at Disneyland for the first time. It was magical- feeling it fall in my mouth as I walked and seeing the fresh Spring daffodils getting more and more covered. Magically magical! And, I loved photographing it because that was a new experience as well. After breakfast, we went to City Hall. It was a pretty stunning building that was designed and built in the 1920s. I am realizing more and more (why this seems new to me is beyond me) is that I love beautiful things. I love architecture and clothing and interior design and gorgeous stationary. Our local guide, Lena, was really wonderful. She was by far the best of the three that we’ve had. Anyway, she said that the architecture wanted people to be “thrilled” then they saw the building so he added many different details with natural Swedish materials to show off Sweden. There was tons of attention paid to detail. Nearly everything (pillars, ceilings, walls, molding, stairs) had a new and beautiful feature that somehow all complimented each other. The only thing lacking detail was the ceiling in the Blue Room. The one odd thing about the (Swedish) architect is that he traveled around Europe coming up with ideas for the City Hall and somehow forgot how cold and snowy it gets in Sweden. The Blue Room is named that because he wanted to keep the roof to the room open. As in open air. In Sweden. Where it is snowing in April. Anyway, the room was beautiful and then there was a flat, white ceiling. The ceiling already looked out of place with all of the rest of the understand elegance in the room and as we toured the rest of city hall, it seemed even more out of place. It was the only room without a beautiful ceiling. Anyway, the room held an organ with 10,000 pipes. It is where the Nobel dinner is held on December 10th each year for the recipients and the Swedish king and queen and whomever else is invited to such an affair. It is also used on June 6th, their National Day. They have a citizenship ceremony for new citizens. You only need to be a resident of Sweden for 3 years and make a certain amount of money, although they also accept a lot of refugees. Lena said that most of the immigrants are from Africa and the Middle East. I noticed today that most shop owners/workers were Asian or Middle Eastern. Anyway, it is free to attend university and most students attend locally and stay with their parents while they attend school. It was free for foreigners until 3 years ago for foreigners as well, but now they have to pay a small stipend. She said that men make more than women on average, but because men are more likely to be in high paying fields, not because they make more money for the same positions. The government is trying to mix up genders in different occupations, so they are doing things like selecting more women for police force and more men for studying teaching. Then we went into the room where the countries officials meet every other week. The vikings would hold their council meetings in there overturned ship on the shore. I have no idea why. Anyway, the architect decided to make the ceiling of the government meeting room to look like the inside of a viking ship, as if they were meeting in the same way as the vikings. Because, although the vikings had a violent history and have a bad reputation, apparently they are respected for keeping their own community and people strong and intact. It was a pretty rad looking ceiling. Then we went into two more stunning rooms, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures in them. One is a room where wedding ceremonies are held. She said that many people get married in City Hall in that room and that you have two choices for ceremonies. One is 40 seconds or you can choose the longer version at 1 minute 30 seconds. I am assuming that weddings are not big affairs like they typically are in the United States because I have heard quite a few times that many Swedes choose not to get married, even if they are in long term, committed relationships. Part of it is because they have the same rights, taxes, etc whether they are married or single. I can´t imagine that is the only reason, but socially it must not be a big deal. So, the last room that we saw was the “Gold Room.” It is a large room that is completely mosaiced in primarily tiny gold tiles. It has images of traditional Swedish symbols, but the artist was heavily criticised for mosaicing because the art form (mosaics) was not traditionally Swedish so he depicted himself in the mosaic, defending his art. There was a large depiction of the lady of Stockholm uniting the East to the West (complete with the Statue of Liberty and American flag in the West). Okay, that seems like plenty for now. Hopefully I can finish Oslo and Stockholm tomorrow if there is time/internet on the bus.